Last week the government published an order as part of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to formally list microbeads as a toxic substance, in turn meaning the tiny plastic beads are now governed under greater regulation.
The government says that the next step will be to categorically ban microbeads by passing regulations prohibiting the manufacture, import and sales of any personal care product that is formulated with this form of plastic.
Environment is the priority
“Banning microbeads from personal care products will help us to continue protecting the environment for present and future generations,” Dr. K. Kellie Leitch, Canada’s Minister of Labour and Minister on the Status of Women, said in an official statement.
“We will continue to take action to keep Canada’s lakes and rivers clean, and put the priorities of Canadians first.”
Most commonly it is facial and body scrub that have incorporated the beads as a means of providing skin exfoliation, but with a growing body of evidence suggesting that the non-biodegradable material is polluting waterways throughout North America, environmentalist have been lobbying for fast action.
EU and US governments also mulling legislation
Although the Canada government has often appeared to be the most proactive in the Americas, measures are also under way to ban microbeads in the EU after a joint petition was submitted to the European Union by the Netherlands, Sweden, Luxembourg, Belgium and Austria in January of this year.
In the U.S. legislation has been introduced to ban microbeads in Connecticut, New Jersey and Illinois at some point in the course of the next two years, whereas similar legislation is still be mulled in a long list of other states, including New York.
But while state legislators are upping the ante, similar legislative moves are also happening at a federal level.
A U.S. federal ban by 2018?
Representatives Fred Upton (R-Mich) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ) introduced federal legislation to ban plastic microbeads from personal care, taking a similar stand to the legislations that have already been passed at a state level.
As the bill gathers momentum in the Washington D.C. legislative process, mounting awareness of the environmental harm microbeads cause, which has resulted from concerted campaigns behind the state legislations, is likely to offer a smoother passage to this federal legislation.
If passed, the federal bill would ban the sale or distribution of cosmetics products containing plastic microbeads throughout the US, effective January 1st, 2018.